This time last year the Christmas Lights were up and we'd have just celebrated 2020's Official Switch On, but like many other big events, COVID-19 put a stop to the thousands of us gathering for sparkle, entertainment, Christmas stalls, a celebrity or two, the ultimate big countdown and of course the City of Leeds Pipe Band finale.
We've been involved in the Christmas Lights Switch On since 2013 and have missed organising the big event this year - it's one of the highlights in our calendar and we absolutely love seeing everyone having so much fun - it's the main reason we volunteer our services every year and helps us put something back into our community.
The Switch On also raises vital funds to ensure the lights are looking their best every year! Of course this hasn't been able to happen in 2020 but thanks to our local Ward Councillors, working with Wetherby Business Association, they have funded the installation of the mini trees with lights and these start to go up from 23rd November.
The Christmas Lights have been a tradition in Wetherby since 1964, when a local shopkeeper, Colin Wardman, owner of Wardman's Ironmongers, decided to brighten up his store front with a Christmas tree and lights above his shop windows in the Market Place. The neighbouring shop owners asked Colin to put trees above their shops, which he agreed to do and in 1967 the
large Christmas tree in the Garden of Rest was erected for the first time.
Volunteers roll up their sleeves to Save Christmas...
Unpaid volunteers put in a tremendous effort to make the town twinkle bright and this year will be no different!
We all need a little joy in our lives, especially at the moment and there is nothing better to put a smile on your face than the gorgeous display of Christmas shining down on you. It may be a different Christmas in 2020 but we will still retain a little normality!
Wetherby has the most incredibly uplifting community spirit and COVID-19 will not stop the trees and lights going up in true tradition and our wonderful volunteer elves have a marathon ahead of them as they are busy checking bulbs, trimming and dressing trees (a string of lights is wrapped around every single one you see by hand) and getting into a cherry picker and up ladders to light up beautiful town.
These images show just some of the preparation involved, but there is so much more than a twinkling tree or light display to put up! These elves work hard...
Please look out for them in their high-visibility clothing and give them a little 'thank you' - they are always open to a brew too - it's cold out there!
Proving that indeed 'Many hands make light work'
FUN FACT: Did you know, originally, glass bulbs were used and if a bulb broke (which they often did) the entire tree was plunged into darkness until someone went up a ladder to replace the bulb. And there were a lot of bulbs - in 1989, the Wetherby News reported the use of 1600 coloured and 2225 clear bulbs. WOW!
Well done from us to everyone involved, each and every year you do such an amazing job but this year is something special.